“There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”
May 29th, 2008
“Who the frak is Jeremy Bentham?”
[In case this 4700 word review wasn’t enough, here’s more post-podcast thoughts about the Lost finale! Was the finale spoiled by the one which preceded it, dooming it from the very beginning? Well, no, but it’s a valid argument.]
This is the question that pervades the conclusion to Lost’s fourth season, one that I asked myself the second the name was uttered. Now, I presumed that this (like most Lost names) had special meaning, but resisted the urge to head off to my computer to use Wikpedia to find out which philosopher or some other profession the show was using to describe this intriguing character who, as the finale unfolds, we learn was in the casket we saw a season ago.
And, well, I didn’t even have to wait until I returned to my computer: someone who was only in the TV lounge to watch a show proceeding Lost knew the story, and immediately it clicked: it wasn’t his ideas that made him an ideal choice, but rather his legacy.
As requested in his will, [Jeremy Bentham’s] body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his “Auto-icon”. Originally kept by his disciple Dr. Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. For the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, the Auto-icon was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where he was listed as “present but not voting”. Tradition holds that if the council’s vote on any motion is tied, the auto-icon always breaks the tie by voting in favour of the motion.
In an episode full of light bulb moments, pieces falling into place as we knew they had to, this was the biggest: a realization that, in kind with the words of the characters standing beside the casket, there was life after death for its occupant. Death is strange on the island, we know this: whether it’s Christian, Claire or Charlie, it is clear that dying is not final in this world.
And there is nothing final about this finale; while we turn the corner on one chapter of the lives of our castaways, the series has simultaneously created a whole new set of mysteries, a whole new structural question (perhaps even rivaling our post-season three confusion), and certainly more than enough dramatic potential for the final two seasons to resonate just as strongly as this one.
To be frank, this is no “Through the Looking Glass;” its moving pieces were smaller, and its scale (even considering Locke’s mission from Jacob) are in no way going to create something to that level. However, the episode fulfills that finale’s potential, paying off storylines both emotional and adventurous, and providing more than enough fodder for Lost fans to continue salivating for the final 34.
In the meantime, let’s salivate over this one.